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Monday, February 29, 2016

What Is In A Space? #EdblogNZ

What is in a space?

At our place, our buildings may be a little older than others, but it is what you find on the inside that counts.  Not only is our community varied, but our classroom and learning environments are also varied, oftentimes reflecting the teachers, teacher aides and students that you find in them.  It is not a ‘one size fits all’, and this is how it should be.   

For this #EdblogNZ challenge, I chose to focus not on my office, instead, I wanted to show a snapshot of our whole learning environment. 

What I like best about our learning environment is how much of it is co constructed alongside our students.  I love how you can go from one room to another, and each space is set up to cater for the students that live inside. 

If we had an unlimited budget, then I can imagine that our team could create an amazing learning environment with all manner of nooks and crannies, much of which would be co designed with our students and our community.  However, despite the lack of an unlimited budget, we are still able to utilize what we have and new furniture to create interesting learning spaces.  ‘Stuff’ (and I have blogged this before which you can read here) does not make great learning opportunities – people (as in the teachers and the students) do!  A lack of a futuristic learning environment did not stop us from having an ‘alien landing’ or bringing in snow.   All that required was a willing mindset and a firm belief that behind great learning is engagement and fun!  That is right – FUN!   It is because we know how to bring learning alive for our students that I am confident that if we had the funds to dream big – you would see one of the best learning environments in the galaxy! 

In the meantime, hats off to the team for creating fabulous learning without all the fancy bells and whistles!  To all those teachers and leaders who year for what the other schools have, remember this – all you need is your vision and some ingenuity.  I think sometimes, the fact that you are able to be creative with what you have means that you are far more innovative than the fancy ‘modern’ classroom that still shuts its doors!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Better Late than Not #EdBlogNZ Challenge #1



I am a bit late coming to the #EdBlogNZ Challenge.  In my own defense, I have been busy.  Firstly, on holiday where I was tech free for 8 days (both a gift and a curse, but more about that another time) however, it meant I missed the whole challenge and only stumbled upon it by pure accident, and secondly, it is the first week of school after summer break and it has been pretty full.  Although it is now February, I thought I would do the January challenge around goals and plans for the year anyway.  After all, it is always better to start late than not to start at all. 

I am a very goal orientated person at the best of times, quite possibly because I may (emphasis on MAY) be a bit of a control freak, and setting goals, having plans and thinking about the ‘where to next’ helps me keep a lid on some of the many things that I am juggling!  It is interesting to note that when things get a little unbalanced it is usually because one of the ‘lids’ has come loose and the associated spirals of disorganization are having a field day!   In saying that, there is nothing wrong with a bit of spontaneity and frivolity in our lives, but like anything, that too needs to be balanced in order for me to operate with a semblance of sanity.

For 2016, my three key words are Innovation Collaboration, and Growth.  Interwoven through these is the word Balance.  The fact there are three words (technically four) and not one, means I have failed the #oneword2016 mandate, but as I have not ever been known for taking the easy or well-worn path by blindly following what everyone else is doing, I see this as my take on the challenge!

To best understand these three words, I created a quick infographic, posted above.  

However, the following is a summary of what they stand for.   

Innovation

If you are a regular reader (if you are not you should be, so feel free to subscribe so you do not miss out) you will know that I am a lover of innovation.  It stands to reason that this year I will continue to support my staff to explore new roads, and new possibilities.  In many respects, I will be taking a leaf out of the Agile leadership handbook by making sure I provide the space, resources and time for people to innovate.  You can read more on Innovation here, and here

Collaboration

We all know the benefits of a collaborative environment, and this year I want to keep on supporting my team (and myself) to collaborate.  For myself, it is about utilising the networks I am involved with - globally and locally, digital and face to face, to benefit both my own development but also to contribute to the wider network.   It will be about looking out for opportunities to connect and to collaborate.   You can read more on Collaboration and Innovation here


Growth

Satisfaction and success comes when we grow.  Growing our staff is one of the key steps we have for continuous and ongoing improvement at our place, but it is much more than just that for me this year.  Naturally I am very committed to working alongside my team to help them find opportunities to grow, and coaching is one of the most powerful tools we have to assist this.  2016 will be about supporting more staff to be successful coaches, but it will also be about my own growth as a leader, professional and as a person.  I am by no means perfect, and each year I strive to be a little better than the one before.  Fortunately I still have plenty of scope for growth in this area, and like many others,  I am a 'work in progress'.  Growth will be about softening the hard edges, watching the 'off the cuff' moments and strengthening the interpersonal skills.  A little bit of navel gazing probably won't go amiss either! Professionally, I am enjoying the challenge that comes with the Postgraduate work with Mindlab, and I am looking forward to seeing my growth as a result.  It is also an amazing opportunity to strengthen the goals I have for Innovation and Collaboration as well.  You can read my thoughts on Mindlab and growing as a professional here

Balance 

None of the three words above have any hope of fruition without balance.  My own wellbeing - professional, personal and physical will fail if I am not cognisant of the importance of balance.   It is very true, that old adage that first you must look after yourself, if you are to be of use to anyone else.  Myself, my family and the people I work with deserve me to be the best me I can be.  With that in mind, time to wrap up this post.  

So, three key words with the overarching goal of balance, are my areas of focus.  Of course,  there are smaller things, projects and passions that I will be tackling, but these will also be from under the above umbrella.  

What is your 2016 focus areas?  Do any of these resonate with you?  What are your thoughts?